Thursday, December 30, 2010

WPIT Summary

WPIT - World Peace through Inclusive Transformation

A Summary of Who We Are

November 6, 2010

WPIT – World Peace through Inclusive Transformation
WPIT is a commitment to have people around the globe understand differences and develop skills so that peace is available to all. The sustainability of world peace will emerge when enough communities appreciate diversity as an asset and have the skills to build personal and social value from interacting effectively with differences.
In society, we often look at diversity as a source of problems – things to be fixed like gang conflicts or situations to be managed like sustaining mixed income neighbourhoods. We rarely look at diversity as a source of opportunity for everybody, except in relatively minimal ways like encouraging “ethnic” restaurants, funding mixed heritage cultural experiences or subsidizing an “alterative” movie industry.
If you ask a typical person how they would describe the community they are part of they would likely say it is a group of people who do the same thing – like my bridge club, or believe the same thing – like my church, or are attached geographically to the same place – my town. People haven’t been taught to look at how diversity is essential to community and every kind of interaction.
If we weren’t different from each other we wouldn’t have the need or capacity to interact. It is not just that interaction would be boring or useless. It would not be possible! It is differences that allow for the capacity to communicate. This is just one of the powerful gifts of diversity.
Our mission is to have the concept of Giftedness appreciated everywhere. In addition we aim to have all peoples have the capacity to benefit from diversity so as to have social and economic abundance. This in turn will bring peace to communities everywhere – in other words – world peace.
Giftedness Defined
A gift is anything that you are, have or do which creates an opportunity for you to interact with someone else. Under favourable circumstances such interactions can then be built into sustainable relationships and social and economical opportunities.
Any difference is potentially a gift. If someone has black hair and they discover that some people have red hair, it may become for them an opportunity to dye their tresses. Out of many people acting to fulfill this desire an entire hairstyling industry can be built.
The diversities that get labelled as dangerous, awkward, socially incorrect and disabling, are also fundamentally simply differences and therefore potentially gifts.
In the Giftedness approach, the work of Inclusion is simply to create the circumstances under which people will see their differences as opportunities for each other and know how to fulfill these opportunities.
Interestingly and importantly, when people adopt a Gifted perspective they also become more peaceful. This is simply because they have developed the skills to be creative with diversity and they are also conscious of the social and economic benefits that are being made available. There is less impulse to fight and do harm when there is nothing to fear and everything to gain.
When the world has people experience the concept of Giftedness in everyday life the result will be Inclusion and this will foster peacefulness. This connection between Inclusion and peace is at the heart of what we stand for.
Integral to inclusion is the development of creative and unique social and economic opportunities in local communities. It is a fundamental part of our mission to have Inclusion experienced as a multidimensional set of interactions where creativity can be expressed and to foster sustainable social and economic experiments.
The BMX Model of Inclusion
One of WPIT’s key objectives is to research the BMX Model of Inclusion and to have it taught as a practical model for social and economical development.
We propose that three distinct states of Inclusion co-exist. Neither is better than the other, but often there is an emergent pull to move from one state to another. We are calling these states B, M, and X:
 State B (Basic): Groups allow the presence of people with diverse characteristics. State B’s principal quality is that the includers share presence with diversity, but no other changes are anticipated or offered. The includers like their community as is, expect no major shifts, and the included are expected to adapt to the ways and means of the includers and to get along as best they can. Typically the included express gratitude for the opportunity and work hard to not cause difficulties.

 State M (Mechanical): Includers recognize that the included are struggling to get along, and are willing to make “accommodations”. The included move beyond simply being grateful for the opportunity to coexist and begin to advocate for support. For example, service providers currently tend to segregate individuals with cognitive challenges and the professionalization of supporters tends to turn citizens into helpers and volunteers instead of friends and colleagues.

 State X (Crossover): Both includers and the included recognize that another world is possible, one that benefits from the gifts and contributions available in the cultures, characteristics, and experiences of members of both the including and included groups. The perception fades that there are two sides and a distinct boundary.
Operationalizing the BMX Model:
State B (Basic) A teenager with autism and no speech is kept at the back of a regular classroom, with no attention paid to whether he is building friendships.
State M (Mechanical) All teenagers with “disability” labels are given opportunities to be in a homeroom for 1st period. The school has a resource room for tutoring, an “inclusive” lunchroom, and Special Olympics classes to replace regular gym.
State X (Crossover) Ninth grade students are invited to form a support circle with a teen who loves music, and who also has autism and no speech. Twenty-three students respond. They meet regularly and enthusiastically at different points in their day and week for the next four years. The teen who focuses the circle enjoys participating in the school band, gym and many more classes than anyone originally expected. The other teens express their appreciation at having an alternative to being “Nerds”, “Preps” or simply left out. The school administration notes a dramatic decrease in fights and vandalism.

The Peaceful Open Inclusive Spaces Alliance (POISA)
Another WPIT key objective is to see POISA projects grow communities locally and around the globe.
POISA arises from the experience that communities, work places, schools, etc. can become more peaceful when people of diverse backgrounds come together in ways that draw on diversity as a social asset rather than a liability, and where people are free and supported to create and shape their own activities. The future of POISA is to teach people that Inclusion makes peace possible, to foster the sustainable development of real examples of POISA and to have strategic buy-in around the world. People will come to expect their world to be made up of such spaces.

PEACEFUL  Having the capacity to resolve conflict to the benefit of all concerned
OPEN  Participants shape their own agendas and activities
INCLUSIVE  Diversities among participants are welcome and drawn on as valuable resources
SPACES  Locations, contexts, and rules and principles that give participants a safe and facilitative bounded area within which to generate their activities
ALLIANCE  Agreements between organizations and individuals to work together to create and preserve a valued experience

On the ground POISA is a complex process of community development consisting of:
 the development of a community’s principles of Open Space
 supporting the community’s invitation process to become more diverse
 capturing the learnings as the community becomes more peaceful
 facilitating story telling that deepens the community’s ability to be diverse and peaceful

Judith Snow has done groundbreaking work throughout her life to have people notice and appreciate the contributions of people who are labelled disabled. She has travelled and taught that, rather than being problems to fix or hide, the differences we call disabilities create a context for relationship and community building and for greater social and economic sustainability. Over time she developed a storehouse of examples of peace making through Inclusion drawn from fields such as education, health care, community development and economics.
In the mid ‘90’s, Judith Snow realized that Inclusion of diversities, if they are appreciated as gifts and contributions, creates the context for people to become peaceful.
WPIT was born when Judith Snow, Gabor Podor, Erin Socall and Jason Wiles toured several states for seven months, speaking with and learning from others who were transforming fear of differences into passion to build social and economic sustainability.
At this time WPIT is conceived as an umbrella organization, seeding and guiding other initiatives and projects that look very different from each other, but which have the common -characteristics of being able to teach people and have them build from their differences in ways that foster sustainable relationships, abundance and peacefulness.
In 2008, Judith Snow, Gabor Podor, Erin Socall and Jason Wiles began on an exploration throughout the United States and Canada. This 7 month journey took them deep into the heart of a learning and engagement experience. They worked together with many people who were creatively dealing with deep exclusion in their own lives. From the stories and experiences of the people met along the way, the BMX model of inclusion was developed.
This journey gave the evidence that peace really is available through Inclusion. To experience some of the stories for yourself, you can read the blog from the tour at
The World Peace Tour is scheduled to go back on the road in early 2011 officially launching WPIT’s 2011 projects and spreading Inclusion everywhere it goes. Locations on the current timeline range from Ontario, Minnesota, Georgia, New York and Arizona.
The fastest growing sector in the entertainment industry is video games, surpassing both movies and music combined in 2008, and just like movies and music, the themes in games do not always provide the players with the very best social messages. Imagine the power of fostering peace and reinforcing it through game play!
WPIT Games is a project to do just that. By creating a series of fun, Inclusion themed video games we are generating a community of online gamers who come to a website on a daily basis and are reinforced with themes of diversity and Giftedness. We are expecting that this learning will play out in the rest of their lives, giving gamers a background to act in more Inclusive ways.
We are in the process of creating an alliance with several game development companies for this project, both upstart companies and big businesses. In this way we can tap into the large audience that bigger developers can offer while working with new, unshaped game creators.
Our first project is on track to be released online in early 2011, in time to be entered as part of the 2011 Games 4 Change Festival in New York City.

As a step in building community at the Robert Cooke Housing Co-operative, we are providing space for the members to meet for the purposes of making visible the gifts of everyone in the co-op community—families and singles, young and old, vulnerable people; in other words—everyone. This will support the elements of a satisfying life for all co-op members.
The concept is that each floor comes together for pot-lucks (a meal where everyone brings something to share) so that the residents on every floor in the high-rise and the townhouses can share a space together for socializing. Along with the space—drinks, food and help in facilitating the evening for both adults and children are provided by the people on the floor.
The first pot-luck gathering took place on October 30th 2010 for everyone on the 8th Floor and it was a great success.
Robert Cooke Housing Co-operative operates under the assumption that in community people turn to one another. Everyone has something to give. Together, we operate out of 5 core principles:
1: Assets: Everyone has something to give;
2: Work: Building home and community is real, important work,
3: Reciprocity: Giving is stronger when it’s more than a one-way street,
4: Community: We’re stronger together, and
5: Respect: We deserve it from others – and we owe it to others.

We are making no claims to change anything. What we are doing is setting up a means for people who live in a neighbourhood to come together to tell their personal story. Anybody can throw a party or arrange a pot-luck.. It is the design of this gathering that sets this project apart and makes it a POISA project. The goal of POISA and this project is to develop a model of gathering that educates the participants to the power of Inclusion.
From the mid 90’s to 2010, one person’s (Judith Snow) realization that peace can be available through Inclusion has developed into an international collective of projects and activities. We have grown from discussion groups and celebrations into the beginnings of sustainable organization.
For this dream to stay alive, we must continue to put down deep roots into cultures everywhere, especially so that young people will see the opportunity and lend their energy and creativity to the work.
Now is the time for WPIT to emerge as “real”. This will happen as many people join the commitment and the efforts. The question that must be answered now is: “Are you – as an individual or a corporation – are you willing to build World Peace through Inclusion?” If so, please join us in whatever way makes sense to you.
Mike Skubic, 647-680-0990,

Monday, February 8, 2010

My 20 Minute Speech

Last week I was asked to write a 15 minute speech, word for word, nothing off the cuff. Hopefully it will get me access to getting some corporate inspirational gigs. Good fund raising for WPIT.

It took about four hours to write and it's more like 20 minutes long. Let me know what you think.

Can World Peace Really Happen?

My name is Judith Snow. I am happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure to share a little bit of my life’s journey with people – with you. On top of this I have a burning question that I believe you can help me answer. My question is: “Can World Peace Really Happen”, or more accurately, “When and what will it take for people – people just like you – to get that World Peace can be created and that it will be people just like you and me who do the job to make it real?

This is how I got my burning question. Obviously I am a person with a severe disability. I was born in 1949, in Oshawa Ontario, to a very ordinary lower middle class family, third child of Ted and Rita Snow. By the time I was seven months old I had never tried to sit up or creep, and it was apparent that I was not developing in the usual ways. After months of trips into Toronto to see many doctors my parents were told I had Muscular Dystrophy and that I would not likely live past age four. Clearly they miscalculated. I am now over sixty.

What is true is that I have a very rare sort of body. I have the same muscle strength now that I had when I was born. I have a baby’s strength spread over an adult body, which means I can move everything a very tiny little bit, and nothing except my face very much. I do a lot with my face!

In our world we call this situation a disability. Disability as a concept means that an essential function is missing. In other words, if I say a bomb is disabled I mean it will no longer blow up – essentially it is no longer a bomb. If I say a disabled car is blocking the intersection of Highway 401 and Yonge Street I know that hunk of metal is now a barrier to traffic and not a vehicle any longer.

What I am saying is that I grew up knowing and being surrounded by people who knew that my essential functions were missing. There is a lot more to say about that, but for now what is important to understand is that what we think we know and what is really so can be very different things.

One day when I was six years old my Father was washing and dressing me. As I sat there he explained to me that some doctors in the United States were putting children with Down Syndrome to death because they believed that society should not have to bear the burden of the extra costs that caring for these children would bring.

Dad grew up in rural England, in a small community in the southwest of the island. The major economic activities there were raising cows and sheep, and digging rocks to plant potatoes.

He explained that as children with slower thinking grew up, they were able to grow potatoes along with everyone else. Such folks lived and worked along side of each other with no distinctions made. But in his boyhood, he said, children like me were killed because no one had enough food or other resources to support someone who would likely not be able to grow food.

I asked him why he and "they" were still keeping me alive. He replied that perhaps I would be the one to find the answer.

Being a very straight forward kind of kid I never asked him what was the question I was seeking an answer for. I simply believed that the question he meant me to answer was: “Why do people get Muscular Distrophy?” I decided I would be a research doctor and started to take a deeper interest in school. In my teens I felt the burden of isolation and rejection. The question I had to answer turned into: “Why is society so mean to people with disabilities?” By my early twenties I had become a prominent disability rights advocate. Now I am asking myself and you a different question, but I will get back to that in a few minutes!

By the time I was sixteen the medical prediction obviously had shifted and “they” said I would live until I was thirty. My parents were clear that I should have the same opportunities as my three siblings and my Mother spent two years finding a university that was sufficiently flat so that I could get into the essential courses. There was no mandate for accessibility in those days. I continued to enjoy my academics and in 1968 I entered an Honours BA program in Mathematics and Psychology at York University.

Still, underneath it all we knew I had no real future, and 1978 found me living in a chronic care hospital, gradually losing my little remaining muscular strength, bloating with oedema and struggling to breathe without coughing. My time was near!

However, at the same time the determined side of me was going back to York University four days a week to run Canada’s first Centre for Learning Support. As I had completed my BA, and then my MA, at York I had realized that there were many students or potential students, and even some staff and faculty members at the university, who would be empowered if there were somebody around to help them organize the accommodations they needed to do their work more effectively – the blind student who needed a Braille map to get oriented and some volunteers to read texts onto tape, the professor with newly acquired Multiple Sclerosis who needed to get registered for Wheeltrans, and so on. In 1976 with a seed grant from Atkinson Charitable Foundation I set up this campus support system. Now every university and college in Canada has one.

While on campus I met a professor of Graduate Studies in Education, Marsha Forest. She was researching the value of inclusive education – classrooms where students of diverse academic abilities study together. She and I became great friends and challenged each other as to how far this inclusive idea could go. I began to see myself through her eyes, as a vital, intense woman with good ideas, interesting questions and much more to give and take than a part-time job, a bed in a chronic care hospital and a medical death sentence could give me room for. Through Marsha and her husband Jack, President of Frontier College I met many more energetic and paradigm breaking people. I began to hope I could live.

The short version of a long struggle is that in late 1979 I found out my increasing ill health was due to an allergy and my sense of futility was due to being trapped in a service system dedicated to comfort dying people. I lived on others’ couches for a while, and by June 1, 1980, with the intense political and personal support of all sorts of people, I became Canada’s first person to have government funded individualized support – money to pay the wages of assistants who go with me throughout the day so I can work and live as a fully participating citizen.

I wanted to know how it was that Marsha and many of the people I met through her and Jack were able to see me not as a defective person with a dysfunctional body that could not meet the demands of life but as an interesting and resourceful colleague who lives with some unusual challenges and opportunities. Same evidence, different approach and extremely different personal and social outcomes!

As the blindfold of disability thinking gradually left my understand, and believe me it took me many years to be able to let go of the disability paradigm totally, I realized that people who are labelled disabled are always contributing something. I also gained evidence that we would contribute much more to the economy and to our communities if we were actually supported to make the contributions we are good at making, not the contributions others think we should have been able to make.

Let me give you some quick stories to illustrate what I mean by contribution. In 1993 fifty-two people moved into the thirty-six apartments of Courtyard Housing Cooperative in North Toronto. The coop is designed to be inclusive so people of a wide range of abilities, cultures and incomes were invited to become neighbours. Most of us had never met before moving in.

Imagine how long it would ordinarily take fifty-two strangers to get onto speaking terms and to know each other, especially in a busy, urban apartment block. It is predictable that we would never get to know each other well.

We all knew each other in three weeks. Here’s how it happened. A middle aged woman, an enthusiastic Special Olympic athlete by the name of Miriam, has the characteristic of walking into people’s apartments without knocking, asking people personal questions, like: ”Why is your nose crooked?”, then walking into the next apartment without knocking, telling everyone there what she has just learned about their neighbours and then asking them the same sort of questions. Soon we were all talking to each other, if only to gossip about how to handle Miriam and her questions.

Miriam is the perfect ice breaker and we made her head of the Social Committee. But here’s the not so obvious contribution, the powerful gift, that Miriam gave us. Through Miriam we learned that many of us had begun to feel ill soon after we moved in. Without Miriam I would have known only that I felt sick. With Miriam building a circle of story telling we discovered that “WE” feel sick! We formed a committee, took on the city who own the building and discovered that they had cut costs by putting in an inadequate air circulation system. There is a car park under the apartments and many were being slowly poisoned by the exhaust gases. Within six months we were able to get an individual air circulation system added to every apartment.

In those six months one person died. Without Miriam how many more would have died before we could meet ourselves and get organized to deal with the danger we were facing?

Another story – in 1993 I started an art guild called Laser Eagles. Twelve artists are part of this – I am one of them. One way or another none of us is able to create a painting by ourselves. In the beginning each artist would wear a laser pointer strapped to the head, arm or leg, some part of our body we can move with some reliability. With the laser light we would show our supporter, called a Tracker, what colour, what brush and how to create the painting. The Trackers have often been college students who need a community placement or a senior who has time on their hands. These days none of the artists uses a laser pointer anymore. We have all found other ways, often without words, to communicate with our Trackers.

One artist is a young man, Aaron, who has never spoken and whose body is tiny and very fragile. In the first two years of Laser Eagles we often had young men and women from a police training college program come in as Trackers. One police cadet would hold Aaron’s hand, one would hold the brush, and through subtle flickers of his fingers Aaron would indicate where to put the paint.

There is nothing to match the effect that supporting Aaron had on those cadets. Throughout quiet hours of patiently following the tiniest movements young men and women discovered their capacity to listen, to relate, to appreciate creativity, to stand up for the value of diversity and to be peaceful community citizens.

Young Aaron literally has the capacity to single-handedly gentle an army. What he needs to give his gift is a stable context to create his art and plenty of access to young men and women.

This is how I got my burning question: “What will it take for people to get that World Peace is available through including diversity in our lives and communities?” It seems like a very airy fairy idea until you spend time with Miriam and Aaron, and the hundreds of other people I have spent time with or whose stories I have heard.

It’s simple enough. First you decide to be inclusive and welcome someone who is very different from you into your life or your community’s life. Then that person or that group messes something up, either because they don’t like the rules, or they can’t understand the rules or they just simply can’t do it. Then there is a choice – re-establish the old rule or do what it takes to make a new one that works for everyone. Those who decide to take the journey to build a renewed context, a renewed community, find that along the way they not only got a beautiful painting or healthy air in their apartment building, they also became able to create peace along the way.

In my experience the work of making oneself ready and then actually receiving the gift of diversity and peace making looks very different than expected. It is easy to miss if you aren’t willing both to look for it and then see it. Many years ago I spent several days in a south western US desert. There are tiny flowers everywhere in that region, but I did not see them for nearly three days. My eyes were used to much bigger flowers, with very different colouration. It literally took days for my visual organizing system to prepare itself to interpret “flowers” even though the subtly hued blossoms were there all along.

I wrote the following story to talk about this journey of welcoming diversity and preparing ourselves to be peaceful.

The Bicycle

This is the context of the story:

The first character is David who is the dad. David is a city bureaucrat and a volunteer who visits a voiceless young man in a state run nursing home whose name is Chris.
Chris enjoys collecting small plastic toys.
The family consists of David's wife Joan and 3 kids. The third child is Joe who is 10, burly, egocentric and greedy.
They regularly attend a church that has a strong social committee.
Only David has met Chris.

At the beginning of our story, it is Christmas time. David, disturbed by the materialism of Christmas, decides to follow Chris’ example of enjoying simple pleasures. This idea turns out to be a hard sell with the family, especially Joe who has his heart set on a specific bicycle.

On Christmas day, the extended family gathers. Joan is cooking an extra fabulous dinner since she has ample time because she has not had to buy and wrap many gifts. When the time comes to open presents, each person gives each person a simple gift, costing 0 to 5 dollars, chosen with that person’s capacities and interests in mind.

As the thoughtfulness and creativity emerge, people become more and more excited. Unlike other Christmases, family members become interested in each others' gifts, and appreciative of the newly enjoyable interaction – except grumpy Joe.

Every one of Joe’s gifts is a coin or a bill, and as time passes others pass him some cash under the table. By the end of the day he has accumulated $21.53. Joe is confused. He loves the money and the attention but it is nowhere near enough for a bicycle. Nor does he actually want to be thought of as only a money grubber.

After dinner, to Joan’s shock, Joe offers to help with the dishes.

After Christmas, David is filled with curiosity about his son's confusion. David takes opportunities to talk to him and also invites him to his next visit with Chris. At the visit Joe is uncharacteristically silent and visibly uncomfortable, but offers to come on the next visit too. In the meantime, he gets excited by discussions about how to turn his $21.53 into enough for a bicycle.

Early in February, Joan and David are both shocked to discover that their credit cards have 0 balances!

Through a series of small investments and odd jobs, strong arming everyone who was present at Christmas dinner, Joe has raised his cash to $60.79. One day before spring break, on the way to a visit to Chris, Joe and David see the exact bicycle in a going out of business sale and buy it on the spot for $49.99. Joe proudly shows it off to Chris, riding it around and around the room. Chris beams with joy.

Some time after spring break, guys at school tease Joe about the time he spending with Chris. Joe is confused and starts a fist fight where another child ends up with a broken arm.

Fortunately the school uses restorative justice instead of zero tolerance. Joe and his parents find themselves facing the injured child, his parents, several other children and school officials. This gathering is led by a justice oriented listener. Each person explains the incident and its impact on them. It emerges how frightening teasing is to the children and how no one seems to know how to deal with it. Joe is nearly in tears. He turns to his parents and explains how he doesn’t know how to be both a person who likes and respects Chris and a regular boy who makes fun of “gays” and “retards”.

No one has ever seen Joe be so vulnerable and articulate.

The resolution of the meeting includes a decision to bring Chris to the school and have Joe and his classmates make a presentation about inclusion.

Next Christmas comes. The nursing home made less profit this year, so the executives decide to cut costs by closing it for the holidays. Chris has no place to go to over the holidays and the official decision is made to permanently move him to a bigger facility two states away. Upon hearing this, David and several people connected to the school and his church organize a ten day vacation for Chris at the church’s retreat house. They recruit paid and volunteer helpers, and secure his return to the same nursing home when it reopens. All goes well and Chris goes to Joan’ and David’s for Christmas dinner. Joe does not receive even one quarter and he doesn’t seem to even notice his gifts. He is too busy helping Chris open his plastic toys and eat his pureed ham and turkey dinner.

When Joe helps take Chris back to the nursing home on Jan. 3, he notices Chris longingly looking at the top drawer of his dressing table. Joe peeks into the drawer and sees the jumbled collection of old pictures and plastic figurines, some quite cheap but some complex and interesting He has an insight.

Joe takes his remaining $10 from last year’s bicycle fund. Working with the shop teacher and his classmates, he constructs a wall hung display cabinet and some picture frames. A few weeks later the entire class participates in putting Chris’ bedraggled family pictures back together with clear tape and into beautiful, simple frames. Chris chooses and organizes the plastic toys he wants in his display cabinet by eye blinks. The most prominent toy is the one Joe gave Chris for Christmas – a happy clown on a bicycle.

The End

My final point is that the gift of diversity is everywhere. Every stable country has its gypsies. Every faith group is one fence apart from people who believe something else. And certainly, very, very certainly every family has at least one member who physically, intellectually or emotionally is very different in some deeply challenging way.

What would it take for you to accept that these challenges are placed at your doorstep so that you can receive the gifts of more happiness, a more vital and stable economy, more creativity in your personal and community life, more accurate communication, deeper more trustworthy relationship, and best of all a planet-wide outbreak of peace? I am asking because I know that once you accept this truth about inclusion you will help me to build it.

Thank you.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

WPIT Draft Business Plan

Preliminary Business Plan for World Peace through Inclusive Transformation

World Peace through Inclusive Transformation – (WPIT) – is a commitment to have people around the globe understand differences and develop skills so that peace is available to all. The sustainability of world peace will emerge when enough communities appreciate diversity as an asset and have the skills to build personal and community value from interacting skilfully with differences.

Judith Snow discovered this reality as she worked to have people notice and appreciate the contributions of people who are labelled disabled. She taught the world that, rather than being problems to fix or hide, the differences we call disabilities create a context for relationship and community building, and for greater social and economic sustainability. Over time she developed a store house of examples of peace making through inclusion drawn from fields such as education, health care, community development and economics.

In the mid ‘90’s, Judith Snow realized that inclusion of diversities, if they are appreciated as gifts and contributions, creates the context for people to become peaceful.

WPIT was born when Judith Snow, Gabor Podor and Jason Wiles toured several states for seven months, speaking with and learning from others who were transforming fear of differences into passion to build social and economic sustainability.

At this time WPIT is conceived as an umbrella organization, seeding and guiding other initiatives that look very different from each other, but which have the common characteristics of being able to teach people and have them build from their differences in ways that foster sustainable relationship, abundance and peacefulness.

WPIT Projects Currently Under Development

World Peace Conference

This initiative is in very early stages of development. The aim is to reach world leaders who have the capacity to put peace on the world’s political agenda. The strategy is to hold a conference for the friends and colleagues who have the ear of these leaders – the relationship and trust to pick up a phone at any time and get heard by the leader.

WPIT will be one of the offerings at the conference, teaching people how the capacity for greater peacefulness is available everywhere through inclusion.

Creating Inclusive, Person and Community Centered Support

WPIT is currently developing an international community action research project with the aim of learning better strategies for supporting individuals with significant differences to participate fully in communities of their choice.

Currently service providers tend to segregate individuals, and the presence of supporters tends to turn citizens into helpers and volunteers instead of friends and colleagues.

Likely partners in this initiative are the University of Minnesota, Brock University, WPIT and various service providing agencies.

This research will also emphasize creating measures for highlighting how inclusion makes communities more peaceful.

Inclusion in Condominiums

Condominiums are a popular housing format in most urban settings. Often they include both owners and sub-leasees who represent a full range of diversities. Condominiums also represent an enormous economic player in that their maintenance costs and legally required reserve funds add up to $100,000’s of resources in any one building or neighbourhood. Currently these resources usually get saved or spent without impacting favourably the social and economic assets of the buildings or the residents.

This initiative is working with the resident Boards of Directors to inspire leadership and teach strategies for economic and social inclusion. These asset based strategies build social networks, bring financial security, build appreciation and utilization of diversity, and increase the value of hard assets.

We expect to be able to clearly show that as condominium owners experience social and economic inclusion they will also experience more creativity, autonomy and security, and that greater peacefulness will be a natural outcome of these benefits.

Personal Economic Inclusion

Everywhere the physical, cognitive and emotional differences that are called disabilities are considered to be in the sphere of charitable activity. Consequently individuals who are labelled disabled, their families and friends, are caught up in efforts to help, rehabilitate and support. Although a great deal of money is expended on behalf of “the disabled”, the affected individuals and their networks generally experience deep poverty. This in turn reinforces their isolation, dependence and vulnerability.

Excellent work has been done and much more can be done to have individuals and their networks be included in the financial flow and in fact to generate abundance.

Efforts in this area will continue to focus on teaching individuals and communities how to use abundance generating strategies. A parallel focus is to change policies that are unnecessarily limiting. An example of a simple and inclusive strategy is to support an individual to file an independent income tax refund claim, instead of being claimed as a dependent by their parents, which can liberate tens of thousands of dollars over one lifetime, and make other income generating strategies more feasible.

This project under WPIT will require an extensive policy research and development capacity as well as a community outreach effort to continue to work with mainstream accountants, financial experts, etc.


The Peaceful Open Inclusive Spaces Alliance – POISA – arises from the experience that communities, work places, schools and in fact the world, can become more peaceful when people of diverse backgrounds come together in ways that draw on diversity as a social asset rather than a liability, and where people are free to create and shape their own activities.

Peaceful – having the capacity to resolve conflict to the benefit of all concerned
Open – participants shape their own agendas and activities
Inclusive – diversities among participants are welcome and drawn on as valuable resources
Spaces – locations, contexts, and rules and principles that give participants a safe and facilitative bounded area within which to generate their activities
Alliance – agreements between organizations and individuals to work together to create and preserve a valued experience

The future of POISA is to teach people that inclusion makes peace possible, to foster the sustainable development of real examples of POISA and to have strategic buy in around the world so that people will come to expect their world to be made up of such spaces.

On the ground POISA is community development:
- the development of a community’s principles of Open Space
- supporting the community’s invitation process to become more diverse
- capturing the learnings as the community becomes more peaceful
- facilitating the story telling that deepens the community’s ability to be diverse and peaceful

There are no current examples of POISA projects, although similar projects have been worked on it the past are anticipated. During this summer at the Toronto Summer Institute for Inclusion an international body of participants envisioned the creations of POISA principles and some initial projects. The truth is that this kind of community development is long term and intensive. Unless sustainable resources are committed this aspect of our work remains a dream.

WPIT Market Strategies

The work that led first to the understanding that diversity is a context for liberating contribution in communities, and then to that inclusion is a context for peace making, originated in decades of seminars, keynotes and other talks and conferences carried out by Judith Snow, herself a person with quadriplegia. It is apparent that especially in today’s environment of electronically facilitated social networking, the way to get the word out about peace is literally to get the word out!

WPIT aims to stimulate a multitude of self generated social experiments in diversity, inclusion and peace, and to do so must develop an energetic, sustainable presence on the web and beyond.

There also needs to be a sustainable, on the ground, connected network of young community leaders who learn as they experiment with making peace in their communities.

WPITs goals are to find and guide these leaders so that in a relatively short period of time there is a strong commitment to peace through inclusion, and to build initiatives with these leaders. Judith Snow’s goal is to be able to retire knowing her life’s work is nurtured and flourishing.

WPIT will be marketed through web, conferences, videos, written materials of all sorts, personal experience, education and any other word of mouth strategy possible.

A particularly powerful strategy is to use the millennium goals and the many professional and organized bodies that measure social and economic progress by engaging them in measuring the increase of peacefulness that arises from inclusion.

Other links to consider

Blog from research tour 08-09
Toronto Summer Institute
Other work related to Inclusion
Projected WPIT Budget

WPIT’s long term budget anticipates the need to accomplish:
- seeding leadership and learning in each project
- creating and making sustainable each initiative, e.g. rerouting the already existing condominium expenditures so that they sustain social networks, which in turn generate social and economic assets that can sustain the condominium networks and seed other initiatives
- growing WPIT, the global initiative of building and sustaining peace, from the abundance of its projects

In the short term of two years WPIT itself needs to:
- sustain Judith Snow, some of her personal support assistants’ wages, and the costs of her doing work
- give WPIT an overall Project Manager, and the capacity to communicate, fund raise, and record and disseminate learnings
- give the early initiatives capacity to get grounded

Two Year Start-Up Budget Estimate

First Year Expenses Monthly Annually
Judith Snow, WPIT Leader
a) Personal Expenses $2500
b) Transportation 600
c) Personal Assistance 1250
Project Director
a) Personal Expenses 2500
b) Office/Communication Expenses 700
c) Fundraising Costs 300
Initial Project Seed Money
a) Project Leadership 3000
b) Seed Money: legal and accounting,
insurances, communication, etc. 200
c) Fundraising Costs 500
Total First Year Expenses $11550 $138,600 CND

First Year Revenues
General Fundraising $1000
Sales 100
Contract Revenue, Honoraria, Misc. Income 900
Income Return from WPIT Projects 300
Total First Year Income $2300 $27,600 CND

Excess of Expense over Revenue $111,000 CND

Second Year Expenses Monthly Annually
Judith Snow, WPIT Leader
d) Personal Expenses $2500
e) Transportation 600
f) Personal Assistance 1250
Project Director
d) Personal Expenses 3000
e) Office/Communication Expenses 700
f) Fundraising Costs 500
Initial Project Seed Money
d) Project Leadership 3000
e) Seed Money: legal and accounting,
insurances, communication, etc. 200
f) Fundraising Costs 500
Total Second Year Expenses $12250 $147,000 CND

Second Year Revenues
General Fundraising $3000
Sales 500
Contract Revenue, Honoraria, Misc. Income 3000
Income Return from WPIT Projects 3000
Total Second Year Income $9500 $114,000 CND

Second Year Excess of Expense over Revenue $33,000 CND

Two Year Projected Excess of Expenses over Revenue - $144,000 CND

Request for Seed Money for WPIT

Our estimate, admittedly rough, is that WPIT requires $144,000 CND start-up funding to create a solid base for doing work over the next two years.


Yes, it has been eight months since I last wrote.

At that time the Tour was done, “The Book of Judith” – the play was underway, Avalanche was about to be parked at Camphill Nottawasaga, and Gabor and I – when together – were getting ready to invite people to the July Toronto Summer Institute. At the Institute we met and planned with participants from the OM Reunion, Camphill and various international participants interested in Asset Based Community Development. Coming out of the Institute we created POISA – Peaceful Open Inclusive Spaces Alliance. We closed this blog – I thought – in favour of creating a new chapter of world peace through inclusion in the form of “creative stops” and other community organizing initiatives.

It didn’t go that way.

At the close of Jan. 2010 POISA exists mainly in Google Docs and as a section of a business plan. Gabor has left working with me and with any peace projects as far as I know. Camphill will have nothing to do with me and I am living in South Etobicoke. Both Avalanche and Bronte sit in a semi-abandoned state, advertised for sale.

Other leaders and interested people are gathering – all is not lost. At the prompting of one woman I wrote a draft business plan, and in doing so realized that there are several threads that I had been working on for years, and that these impulses are close to coming together. Erin Socall re-emerged, and is gently keeping me on task! A new WPIT is being born.

This WPIT is not a tour. World Peace through Inclusive Transformation is a commitment. WPIT carries me like a swift canoe, with its own instinct of where to go next. I am a rider, giving voice and passion to a direction that wants to emerge in the world. WPIT is part of a human evolution toward a planet-wide culture were all people are interconnected, communicating, being and working in support of vibrant life for all beings in the universe.

The biggest obstacle to the realization of this dream is our own individual and cultural hopelessness. We have loved, believed and committed before and been crushed down by ridicule and failure. Who wants to go through that again!

I do.

I want it and I can sense that Inclusion is a genuine potential for people. We have held in our arms for brief moments in many, many times and places. It can and has been real. We can find ways to sustain inclusion until it becomes the starship that carries us.

In the next entry I am sharing the WPIT draft business plan.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Experiencing The Book of Judith

I am writing this in response to several reviews of the play “The Book of Judith”. These reviews were published during the first week of the play’s run in the revival tent at 1001 Queen St. W. One review was on the CBC’s National Friday May 22, created by Sandra Abma. Other’s were published in Eye Magazine, Eye Weekly, National Post and more.

And then there are the members of the audiences who have been commenting and e-mailing in numbers at every performance. And the choir.

I cannot be objective. This play – my play? – has been and continues to be a wonderful, terrifying and funny journey, all at once. None of the reviews, even the ones like the National which took a real stab at doing more than simply describing the basics, have not come anywhere near the actual experience of creating, then living, The Book of Judith.

I am most surprised and moved by the stories that choir members have shared with me. Most members are volunteers who have been labelled with a “disability”. Throughout the performance they are the Greek chorus: speaking my words, directing the audience, supporting Rubenfeld’s character’s transformation. One by one, as they grew into their role, many choir members have told me tales of how this play is supporting their own transformation, deepening a personal sense of power, liberating sexuality, strengthening vision and dream.

This effect among cast members is in many ways an unexpected treasure for me. I have given my life to breaking open the cage that the myth of disabled and normal confines people in. Yet in this play, in this nearly messianic, religious revival, interactive and spoofy over-the-top musical, the cage is utterly evapourated!

Don’t get me wrong – audiences are being deeply moved as well. The journey is far from smooth. People are personally engaged – with each other as well as with the cast. Andrew Penner wrote original music for the play. His tunes are like a spider’s web. With Rubenfeld’s energy, Penner’s melodic seduction and the choir’s invitation there is no escaping the joy, annoyance and struggle of the engagement. Although some have complained, many are returning for a second experience, and several have spoken or written to me, Michael Rubenfeld, Sarah G. Stanley, Alex Bulmer, Andrew Penner and other cast members about how they were deeply connected and changed in the performance.

The Book of Judith is a miracle disguised as a play about miracles.


Friday, May 22, 2009

The Book of Judith

Well, I am deeply immersed in the play: “The Book of Judith.” I wouldn’t have thought that the play and World Peace through Inclusion were related a mere three weeks ago. Now I understand that they truly are and so I am reporting on the play and my experience of it in this blog. Anyone who might have a chance to come and see the play in Toronto will really, really get something out of it, so don’t miss your chance!

“The Book of Judith” has mainly been created by Michael Rubenfeld and Sarah Stanley. A subtext of the play is about my part in their co-creation, a part which seemed to end about April of 2008. It was at this point that I got sick and tired the advocacy flavour of the piece. I was also beginning to have serious thoughts about taking on World Peace through Inclusion as my main focus at that time, although it was several months before I would meet Gabor and we begin serious consideration about taking off for six months.

Some of you know how deeply I struggle with the concept of advocacy even though I am often thought of as an advocate. The root of the idea is to speak for someone else. It contains within it the ever present idea that people who are considered to be disabled require other people’s help in order to function as human beings. It is not so much that we need advocates, as we need listeners, since even those who have no voice are very good at communicating and even better at contributing. Given that, it is no great task to discover what their dreams are and to create ways for them to contribute even more fully in society. We do not need to advocate; we need to pay attention.

So I was burnt out, disgusted, and unwillingly to spend the time and energy it would take – or at least, so it seemed – to shift Michael and Sarah’s focus. In this play Michael reads the email where I clearly told him and Sarah that I was out of the picture.

Last January, when I had to come back to Toronto so that issues around the funding of my personal assistance could be resolved, I went to a reading of the play which at that time had minimal structure and was being formed as a musical with Alex Bulmar as choir leader and Andrew Penner as composer. It was evident that Michael, and no doubt along with him Sarah, had taken a major shift in focus, and that in fact Michael was prepared to express a vulnerable and moving shift in his understanding of me personally and the life experience of people who get excluded by being labeled.

Those who get to know this play will understand that I was conflicted at that moment. On the one hand it would require me to allow myself to be exposed and in some ways, deified, so that the play could be formed. In other words, every view that other people have of me would become fully expressed in public – odd, inspirational, wrongheaded, bullheaded, artistic, curtly articulate, and more. It was no small struggle to agree to have these images boldly displayed.

At the same time, Michael himself takes a personal beating in terms of his ego and reputation. I realized that he is not putting me through this wringer as some kind of sacrificial lamb to a great cause, but he and Sarah have uncovered a brilliant format to create the context that could blow all the stereotypes to the wind.
I agreed with some reluctance to participate in “The Book of Judith” and justified it to myself as necessary to make up for the fact that I had abandoned Michael and Sarah at a critical stage in their process and that I owed it to them, particularly Michael who had put so much of himself into creating our group in the first place. I came to the rehearsals with that attitude.

Two or three days into the rehearsals I began to realize the genius of the structure of the play. A few more days and I awakened to the brilliance of having it be a musical with a choir made up of volunteer men and women, many of them people with disability labels themselves. They are at times my voice and at times Michael’s voice and very much the voice of people whose voice and social presence is erased by the societal oppression we call disability. At times there are some very humourous moments where the choir affirms the amazing possibilities that lie within the personal experience of being someone whose abilities are considered “wrong”.

And so now I am having a bit of fun with the whole thing. I have also had a wonderful opportunity to meet many of the choir members on a personal level and have some moments of deep reflection on our common journey.

Perhaps the greatest learning for me has been how much I was, and probably still am, caught up in the mirage of disability. This play could never have come to be being if I had not thought that my current singleness was the “fault” of my being quadriplegic. I started and fuelled the entire cascade of errors and events by believing that it is my stillness that places an obstacle between myself and potential lovers, and not just the reality of my being busy, somewhat solitary, and Britishly inhibited! It’s an amazing thing to have a play open your eyes to your own foolishness.

But back to World Peace through Inclusion. “The Book of Judith” is an on-the-ground (or on-the-stage) exposition of the contributions that people can make when they are included. It is also a full exploration of the journey that it takes for people to go from seeing each other as strangers to having collegial and intimate relationships. It’s a full expression of how peace is created when people take on the struggle to work from diversity instead of from sameness. I will never have a better example of what I have been talking about than this play.

We are very much hoping to tour the show. Anybody who has some ideas about this, please let me know.

By the way it has been a long time since I told anybody how to get in touch with us and/or the World Peace through Inclusion Foundation. My email is: and my phone # is: 647-232-9344. Gabor Podor is at

Videos and information about “The Book of Judith” can be found at: Enjoy!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A New Phase Has Begun

(Written May 6, 2009)

As I am writing this I am waiting and wondering if the extremely intermittent internet service characteristic of Camphill Nottawasaga will come back on. It may be a day or two before I get to post this blog entry. I am sitting at my wall hung desk in the back of Avalanche, looking out at a pair of Camphill residents returning from work in the garden. It is nearly the exact experience from the days before Gabor and I left on the World Peace through Inclusion Tour during the week of Oct. 24, 2008 – a book end in time.

The World Peace through Inclusion Tour is finished. Well over but not entirely as there are bills to pay still. Essentially everyone involved has moved into a different mood and activity. Gabor will leave tomorrow to take up intensive preparation for the summer solstice festival, and to rest from his position as a personal assistant to me for seven weeks. Jason has been off for a week and will come back to work – double full time – tomorrow. I am establishing myself: hired a new staff person to spell off Jason, am completing the arrangements to hire my staff through CILT which will give me much greater flexibility, have made arrangements to live at Camphill Nottawasaga in Avalanche until October, and am preparing to move tomorrow to a campground in Toronto for three weeks to participate in the play “The Book of Judith” at the Workman Theatre until the end of May.

We came across the Canadian border on April 28. This moment culminated a truly intense three weeks of presentations given in and around Faribault, Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota. In a way the experience was like my giving the doctoral thesis defence that I have never untaken at a university. After decades of personal and professional research and reflection, and eight months of working with Gabor to discover and develop the model of Syncopated Transition we presented it to over twenty audiences. Our listeners were of very different groups, from city councillors and business leaders to musicians to school children. With one exception – a gathering of group home managers – Syncopated Transition sparked everything from interest to revelation – a true success.

Even at the very end two important realizations emerged. The first was that we knew what we were trying to learn at the very beginning. It was in awkwardly trying to describe the sort of process that with minimal resistance breaks down segregation
– what we are now calling a syncopated transition – that I first recognized what a valuable colleague Gabor Podor is. How archetypical is that – to only recognize that one has always known one’s home after a long journey away from its!

Secondly I realized how much in the presentations I was focusing on inclusion instead of peace. I had not freed myself from my identity as a professional advocate. In my last week in Minnesota I broke free of this and we focused our presentations on the potential of inclusion to create peaceful community.

A different sort of work lies ahead. We have decided to create the World Peace through Inclusion Foundation. Our next step is to invite a diverse working team to the Summer Inclusion Institute ( where participants will design the future of WPIF, expand our Syncopated Transition Model and map out its implementation. Out of this gathering will emerge an organization that will increase the body of research on Inclusion and Peace, create sustainable projects demonstrating Inclusion as a tool for peace and community making, and invent and pollinate a practical language of Inclusion to talk about community and diversity.

We are now inviting people and raising money for this July event.

I will also spend the bulk of the summer at Camphill Nottawasaga writing a book about this experience of nine months of preparation, travel and research. This blog will serve as notes in designing the themes of my next book.

We will continue this blog, but from this point on it is a body of work about the creation of the World Peace through Inclusion Foundation and the results of the work undertaken in this framework.